So, how do you figure out the INFP vs. ISFP distinction?
Let’s look at some basic similarities they share, a key difference or two, and some things you can look for to help you figure out whether you, or someone you are close to, is likely to be a ‘Healer’ or a ‘Composer’.
INFP vs ISFP: What they have in common
INFPs and ISFPs have three letters in common – I, F and P.
- Introversion means they gain energy from having time to themselves, and tend to be deliberate in their behavior; thinking before they act.
- Feeling means they base decisions on their personal value system and the needs and wishes of others, rather than the cold, hard facts.
- Perception means they prefer things open-ended to allow for exploration of possibilities, rather than having too much structure.
However, the biggest similarity between INFPs and ISFPs lies in their cognitive function stack.
Both types have Introverted Feeling as their dominant function, and this is probably the most noticeable and important trait that the INFP and ISFP have in common. In fact, they’re the only two types that are dominant in this trait, which is what may make them seem so much alike.
There’s plenty that can – and has been – said about Introverted Feeling. But for the point of this post, all you really need to know is that it means, basically, that these types are guided by an internal set of deeply held values. They’re individualists motivated by their personal values and must be absolutely true to themselves at all times.
Put these similarities together, and you have an individual who:
- Has artistic sensibilities
- Shows strong empathy and compassion
- Prefers peace over confrontation.
- Likes to do their own thing, their own way.
What makes them different?
Though INFPs and ISFPs have three out of four “letters” in common, the one that is different signifies an important difference in how they relate to the world.
INFPs think to the future, to what could or should be. They’re dreamers, idealists, and visionaries. They’re INtuitive, which basically means they’re more influenced by feelings, ideas, and abstract concepts rather than concrete, sensory information.
ISFPs are grounded in the here and now, what they can experience and understand through their senses. Unlike INFPs who are future oriented, ISFPs live in the present. If people use phrases like “practical” “present,” “good with their hands” and “in action,” they would almost always be talking about an ISFP (or other “S” personality) and not an INFP.
Often, you will notice this difference in the way the INFP or ISFP expresses themselves creatively. Both INFPs and ISFPs tend to be artistic in their temperaments, pursuits, and talents, and value beauty, whatever that means for them. However, INFPs tend to translate an aesthetic experience into words and ideas, whereas ISFPs let the thing speak for itself.
Let’s look at a few more INFP vs. ISFP tendencies to help you tell them apart, and decide which type you – or your friends – likely fit into.
A closer look at the INFP
Just because INFPs are “in their heads” a lot and deeply tuned into their own feelings, it doesn’t mean they don’t observe and care about the world – or especially the people – around them.
They just may take longer to express it, and do it in more abstract terms.
INFPs care deeply, and are highly empathetic, so they make kind, patient listeners. They can also express and connect abstract ideas in a way that can help the other person feel understood and supported. They are often called “Healers,” and are about harmony, potential, and possibilities, for themselves and others.
According to Isabel Briggs Myers, “INFPs excel in fields that deal with possibilities for people.”
Some specific career choices include: artist*, writer, editor, psychologist, counselor, veterinarian, massage therapist* or interpreter (* possibilities for both types).
You might be an INFP if:
- You think more about the future, and possibilities, than the here and now
- You’re creative, but mostly with ideas and abstract concepts, not so much with your hands
- You could sit alone in a room with nothing but a book, a notebook, and your mind, and keep yourself engaged and entertained for hours
- Even your close friends don’t always ‘get’ you
- When you say “I see,” you’re using your brain
- You’ve probably been told you make things complicated, think too much, or are ”too” sensitive”
- You love words, ideas, and abstract concepts, and are good at connecting one situation or idea to another
- People turn to you for compassionate listening, and for your ability to find just the right words or sentiments
A closer look at the ISFP
At Truity, we call ISFPs ‘Composers’ because of their innate sensibility for creating aesthetically pleasing experiences. In the words of Isabelle Myers, “The work of their hands is usually more eloquent than anything they say.”
Some jobs that might be a good fit for them include: artist*, fashion designer; interior designer; healthcare; jeweler, florist, mechanic, massage therapist* and animal trainer.
You might be an ISFP if:
- You like to be grounded in your senses, and fully experience your environment in the moment
- You’re creative, but mostly with physical things, such as making visual art with your hands
- Though you like time alone, you need something to be happening to keep you interested
- When you say “I see,” you’re primarily using your eyes as you connect sensory information and use it to make art or inform your experience
- People turn to you for your practical, “love in action” approach
- You’re good with your hands, with your senses, with things, and you use that ability to help others, or to make the moment more enjoyable
INFP vs. ISFP at a glance
future here and now
INFPs and ISFPs are compassionate individualists with dominant introverted feeling. Both love beauty and art, but define and relate to it differently.
An INFP would more likely write a book about an artistic movement and what it stands for, or write a poem turning what they see into a metaphor, while an ISFP would more likely take a photograph or make a sculpture.
INFPs are focused on the future, on possibilities, and on words and ideas. ISFPs enjoy being in the moment and like taking action and experiencing and understanding the world through their senses.
Did you see yourself in one of these? Either way, you’re in good company, but now that you know more about each type, you’ll be less likely to confuse them.